Conor McGregor was looking to start fast against the notoriously slow-starting Donald Cerrone, and that’s exactly what he did.
It took just 40 seconds for McGregor to get back in the win column for the first time since Nov. 12, 2016.
McGregor tagged Cerrone with shots from his left shoulder that busted Cerrone’s nose.
Already bleeding, “Cowboy” retreated only to be incapable of avoiding the pursuit of the Irishman.
A left high kick hurt Cerrone, and McGregor did not stop his attack. He unleashed ground and pound strikes as Cerrone crumpled to the mat, and while referee Herb Dean gave Cerrone every chance in the world to get back to his feet, the fight was stopped, giving McGregor the TKO win.
Conor McGregor combusts Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone in 40 seconds proper. Setting aside my thoughts on the man, the "Notorious" one is a damn thrilling fighter. pic.twitter.com/IIdIljGdhz
— Kyle Johnson (@VonPreux) January 19, 2020
The first-round victory is the second fastest of McGregor’s UFC career, with his famous 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo taking the top spot. It is also his first first-round stoppage since he defeated Aldo to claim the undisputed UFC featherweight belt on Dec. 12, 2015.
McGregor appreciated his handiwork in the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
“I made history here tonight,” McGregor said. “I set another record. I’m the first fighter in UFC history to secure victories at featherweight, at lightweight and now at welterweight, across three weight divisions, so I’m very, very proud of that.”
The always-brash athlete also gave his thoughts on the UFC’s recent handling of its title picture.
“The UFC, they can strip fighters and give other fighters make-believe belts in order to replicate my ‘champ-champ’ status,” McGregor said, “but they can’t give knockout victories across multiple weight divisions, so there you go again. Etch my name in history one more time.”
Despite the insistence from Rogan, McGregor did not put one single name in his crosshairs after his victory. “BMF” champion Jorge Masvidal was in the crowd, welterweight king Kamaru Usman sat cageside and lightweight contender Paul Felder was in the commentary booth for the fight. And while some of those three did get indirect mentions from the Irishman, one particular opponent wasn’t set in stone before he made his way out of the Octagon.
On the opposite side of the cage, Cerrone appeared to be in good spirits despite the result. He shared a hug with his grandmother before reassuring those in attendance that this is not the end of the road for “Cowboy.”
“Hey, man, I love this sport. I’mma keep fighting. I don’t care, it’s just what I love, man,” Cerrone said after the bout. “I got my family right here. I’m okay. Thank you everyone for supporting me over the years. I love it.”
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.